Sunday, July 21

Evil Dead '13 and The Plague of Fanboyism (Or did you even watch the original, bro?)

Okay, The Evil Dead (1981) is a foundational modern horror film with ripples of influence still felt throughout the genre. And yeah, it's the masterclass in independent filmmaking that kindled many a horror fanatic's obsession from its Deadite wick and provoked a generation of budding filmmakers to pursuit their own gory visions on celluloid (and digital video). I remember, along with you if you're of a certain age, my prepubescent self being blown away by how thrilling, frightening, and gory Raimi's cornerstone was upon seeing it for the first time (on VHS!).

So I get why many horror fans treat the original as their baby as I did as well for years. Although at a certain point it's important to develop objectivity even toward such an "untouchable" stalwart of horror. It's certainly a classic, but the off-base claims many have making in the wake of Fede Alvarez's remake are headache inducing. Originally, I was going to do a more straight "thoughts/review" entry. However; after viewing Fede Alvarez's remake last night and surfing around for opinions afterward, it's tough to not address the abundance of thirteen-year-old kid elitism and minute nitpicking. To be blunt, it's wise to not sound like an ill-informed idiot especially when trying to critique why you intensely dislike something.

The original Evil Dead was never intended to be campy or funny nor it is either of those even when viewed today. The characters and script delivered by extremely green actors aren't as amazing as you remember. Ashley J. Williams definitely wasn't the badass, idiot savant "Ash" seen in the sequels (nor did he cut his hand off or have a chainsaw-equipped arm in '81, dumbasses). What the original does have is virtuoso Sam Raimi making intense love to everything with his lens while toying with audience expectations by purposely staging moments where you know a character is making an obvious mistake in judgment (i.e. - Cheryl leaving to return raped, Scotty leaving to return fucked up, Ash being a total pussy). Seeing these same truths and more concerning Raimi's classic repeatedly thrown at Evil Dead '13 only as severely butthurt complaints seriously makes one wonder how many "fans" of the original have actually seen the original. The sheer amount of asinine hate thrown this remake's way is astonishing.

What might be the most ridiculous (again, repeated) charge from the whiners is that the remake is "too gory and the gore has no purpose." Excuse me, but since when did horror fans become born castrated and when did gore necessarily require purpose? Oh, that's right; that convoluted, seven film long series where a dying cancer patient puts individuals through brutal tests of self mutilation to avoid awful deaths so that they find inner strength if they survive had a purpose behind all the screaming, right...? We can play this dumb game all day folks.

And listen, I'm sorry that the Deadites weren't instead wood fairies that guided the young people to their enchanted land of Hadeselia to see little chubby imps muse poetic about stealing left socks and souring milk before its expiration date. Yes, it's a shame Campbell couldn't have made a cameo and evoked his Old Spice Guy character as the treacherous king of Hadeselia, Cullen Laurent Meyers. I'm also sorry it wasn't a somber dissertation on the perils of heroin addiction in the twenty-something American population narrated by Maya Angelou with the Deadites as metaphor for the potential beast in those besieged by its grip. All that sound stupid? Well, it sounds about as stupid as claiming something with the title EVIL (fucking) DEAD has too much nonsensical gore. If anything, it needed more since just like in '81, it's simply demons rippin' youngins asunder and thankfully not for tween girls or offensively high-minded in its aspirations.

As a remake respectful to the source material, Evil Dead '13 checks off all the right points. It maintains the nastiness of the original while mixing in story elements of Evil Dead 2 (1987). The new extensions, mostly involving one of the characters suffering narcotics withdraw, are built around the familiar and literally seem like logical, alternate paths Raimi could have taken but just didn't think of them at the time. Instead of Sam's directorial style being aped yet again, Alvarez almost entirely avoids trick shots and one gets the sense Raimi gave the young director a wide creative berth behind the camera. The fantastic score by Roque Banos strongly recalls Joseph LoDuca's work with all its contemplative piano taps and punctuated trumpeting. Despite Tapert, Raimi, and Campbell producing; every technical aspect stands on its own while also paying quiet homage. The summation is a remake that feels very much part of the Evil Dead fabric without any lingering sense of being a modernized cash-in. Now if only the naysayers would get off their horses made of premium grade bullshit and realize that if it had to be done, the surrounding circumstances are quite possibly the best a "re-imagining" has ever been granted.

That's not to say I'm calling out all that gripe as wrong, but just please explain why like you have some sense and knowledge about the original trilogy. I even have quibbles, mostly over a few dumb lines at key moments, but I refuse to throw a tantrum over what's otherwise a quality, well-directed horror film (remake or not). The deluge of quick "worst movie ever" criticism smacks of prissy fanboys blindly grabbing at whatever nitpicks, even if they don't exist, in ultimately meaningless outrage.

There's even some going so far as to complain about the possessed posing as human again to deceive the living. Of course, let's conveniently forget this occurs multiple times in each of the original trilogy. Yes, you're so cool fervidly defending the "honor" of a series that (gasp!) still remains on Earth even with this remake's existence. Honest, you can set all four movies all nice n' stuff together on a shelf and your fifteen different editions of the first three won't spontaneously combust, I promise. Lastly, if Army of Darkness 2 ever becomes a reality, get out your prettiest lipstick and kneepads not for Sam and Bruce, but for Fede and all those who worked on Evil Dead. Here's to the new series shoving it up the troll's asses.


Drew Grimm Van Ess said...

I've been watching horror for over 20 years and I've been told I'm not a "True" horror fan for liking the remake. People are jokes sometimes. Great post and well said.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Thanks! It has many positive, redeeming qualities and I think it'll eventually be seen in the same light as Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead. As you probably know at first everyone was freaking that someone would actually dare touch such a classic, but now it's generally seen as a standout in Hollywood horror from the last decade that doesn't tarnish Romero's film. I believe this new ED will stand up to that same test.

Craig Edwards said...

I'm glad you liked it. They had the utter gall to put "The Most Terrifying Movie Ever Made" on the poster, then followed that up with a completely by-the-numbers modern horror movie, with unlikable characters and too much "modern grit and relevance" with the junkie character. By the way, you do know there is a Bruce Campbell cameo, right?

Snake Plissken said...

The remake was very good in my book. Ok i wasnt blown away by the movie, but as i said it's very good. I have a split opinion about the "remake" craze, depends on the movie and i must admit that i was sceptical about the new Evil Dead. Anyway the bottom line is that liked this one, especially the 2nd time i watched it. Also I agree with the things you said in your post. There is no cure for stupid people.

LordSlaw said...

Amen, brother.

Lee Russell said...

Spot on. This remake was damn good overall. For me, one of the better ones I've seen in the last twenty years. It was refreshing to see it go the route of "The Hills Have Eyes" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remakes and not hold back or try to go far out into left field.

Heather said...

A-fucking-men, Jayson. I have ranted to NO end about this kind of bullshit from people who seem so eager to protect a film they obviously don't remember or never saw.

As for the "Most Terrifying Movie Ever Made" thing - I fucking love it. Nice little tribute. "The ultimate experience in grueling terror"...gee, where have I heard THAT one before? ;)

Sweetooth0 said...

The remake was crap.

My problems had nothing to do with too much gore (which was great) or any of the things you highlighted in this article, but simply because the script they wrote for this was shit, the cast was as plastic and bland as they come, and the "let's ape on The Ring and The Exorcist" designs for the deadites sucked.

I don't get the impression that Fede Alverez had any understanding of what was appealing about the original Evil Dead.

DAWnofthedead said...

First things first, this is quite the blog. I'm no longer the person I once was that just watched cheesy slasher flicks with reckless abandon, but I appreciate seeing posts that touch upon some of my favorites and provides more information than I ever knew.

Alright, so this is the perspective of someone who hasn't watched the new one, but has watched the old one. So I'm more going to write a general opinion without actually giving an opinion on the new one (since I honestly can't).

I actually disagree that the original wasn't at all a comedy. It may have been the darkest and most frightening incarnation of the series, but there's still a certain amount of campy black humor with OTT execution and performances that I think was done intentionally.

I think my main issue is just a personal shortcoming of mine (and so while I can only respectfully disagree with you, I'd rather not be considered an "idiot" for having this flaw): I've seen too many favorites (or even just enjoyable flicks) ruined and/or homogenized. I know some of the most "classic" horror movies are remakes themselves (The Fly or The Thing, anyone?), yet those are usually put out by reputable filmmakers who've proven themselves. They may have even taken the basic premise and have done their own thing. Nowadays, it seems like the remake is just fodder for anyone trying to stick their foot in the door as a filmmaker, and what easier way than to copy a movie (nearly verbatim) that has a following, put more money into it, CGI it, and turn it into a soul-less slasher flick? That's a general trend I'm seeing these days. Have you seen Let Me In? It's mostly a carbon copy, but what Matt Reeves did that were his ideas completely conflicted with the ideas of the original and turned it into a confused mess. And again, CGI and blood. And that's considered one of the better remakes from this era of remakes.

I've found that, when it comes to message boards, I try to clear my head and take a neutral approach. I still feel the need to vent every once in a while, and I always remain pessimistic. However, I still have that "fanboy edge," for lack of a better term, that you describe. As I said, it's a personal downfall.

So with the Evil Dead remake, I did a fair share of defending the film, and will continue to do so until I watch the film. I'll set my expectations low and see if I enjoy it. The worst case scenario, I hope, is that it's just an average slasher remake with cool effects.

On a side-note, I've also a petty grudge against all the TV remakes we're doing. But that's another story for another time. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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